NEW DELHI/BEIJING, Feb 26: India has told China that disengagement at all friction points is necessary to contemplate de-escalation of troops in eastern Ladakh even as the foreign ministers of the two countries agreed to establish a hotline for “timely” communication and exchange of views.

In the first high level contact after the two countries agreed early this month to disengage from the Pangong Tso area in eastern Ladakh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during a telephonic conversation on Thursday that peace and tranquillity on the border is essential for development of bilateral relations. The armies of the two sides last week concluded withdrawal of troops and weapons from the north and south banks of the Pangong lake.

Releasing details of the 75-minute conversation, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement on Friday that China was told that bilateral relations have been impacted severely over last year. The tense military standoff in eastern Ladakh erupted on May 5 last.

The two leaders discussed the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and issues related to overall India-China relations.

“EAM said that Boundary Question may take time to resolve but disturbance of peace and tranquillity, including by violence, will inevitably have a damaging impact on the relationship,” the MEA said.

“The two ministers agreed to remain in touch and establish a hotline.”

“A prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side. It was, therefore, necessary that the two sides should work towards early resolution of remaining issues. It was necessary to disengage at all friction points in order to contemplate de-escalation of forces in this sector.

That alone will lead to the restoration of peace and tranquillity and provide conditions for progress of our bilateral relationship,” the MEA statement said.

According to a late-night press release issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing on Thursday, the two foreign ministers agreed to set up a hotline for “timely communication and exchange of views”. Wang said China and India should firmly follow the right path of mutual trust and cooperation between neighbouring major countries, and not go astray with suspicion and distrust nor fall back on a road of “negative retrogression”. Wang, also a State Councillor, noted that the two countries need to properly handle the border issue so as to prevent the bilateral ties from being trapped into a “vicious cycle” because of it.

When asked for an update on disengagement of troops in other areas after the withdrawal of soldiers by both sides from the Pangong lake area, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing on Friday that the situation on the ground has significantly eased.

Recently frontline troops of both sides completed disengagement in the Pangong lake area and the situation on the ground has significantly eased, he said. “The two sides should cherish this hard-won momentum and consolidate existing outcomes, maintain the momentum for consultations, further ease the situation, improve border management and control mechanism, advance negotiation on the boundary issue to accumulate mutual trust and safeguard peace and tranquillity along the border,” he added. – PTI